“Live and local!” It’s the rallying cry of the elder air talent, lamenting the passing of radio’s glory days. The phrase is usually invoked in debates over voicetracking, but what it really means is this: Radio on-air content is at its best when it reflects the local community in a timely and topical manner.
One great way for radio stations to be live and local is to champion innovative projects by hometown heroes. And that’s exactly what Kickstarter is all about. Kickstarter has gone mainstream as projects like Reading Rainbow and the Veronica Mars movie have successfully used it to raise money for projects. But at its core, it’s still about the little guy.
Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform. In other words, it lets anybody raise money for almost any project they want. For example, two years ago I used Kickstarter to raise money to launch the nation’s first Food & Travel Expo. (I was successful, thank you very much.)
Kickstarter basically lets people build their own pledge drive. In return for monetary pledges, you offer your backers rewards. I offered people tickets to the Expo and autographed posters, among other things.
But Kickstarter is all-or-nothing. If you don’t reach your fundraising goal, you don’t collect any money at all. other services, like the less popular IndieGoGo, are not.
Championing Hometown Heroes
When you run a Kickstarter campaign, your main goal is to get word out about your project. You pray that some media outlet will shine their spotlight on your project, causing backers to flock to it. Of course, shining spotlights is one of terrestrial radio’s strengths. So radio can do a lot of good in their community by calling attention to Kickstarter projects run by local entrepreneurs.
This can be done as a formal or informal feature. For example, you might want to do it at a set day and time every week, with a produced intro and a lot of fanfare. Or, you may want to take a more laissez-faire approach, only mentioning cool projects when you happen to find them. It will work either way.
Find Cool Projects
Kickstarter has an Advanced Search feature that lets you look up projects by location. Let’s use it to find some cool projects in my old stomping grounds, Boston.
A quick search reveals more than two thousand projects. Fortunately, we can refine our search. Let’s look at Music projects in Boston by End Date. This will show us all of the music projects, starting with the ones that are still live.
Play around for a bit, and eventually you’ll find a live Kickstarter project you want to champion. I’ve found two Boston projects that intrigue me: stylish wooden speakers for my mobile phone, and a feel-good project that helps the disabled through art.
(If you want another great Kickstarter-searching tool, check out Kickspy. If you want a tool to help you determine if a Kickstarter project is on track to succeed, check out Kicktraq and the Kicktraq extension for your Chrome browser.)
Find a project you love, and give it a shoutout on the air. If a project you mentioned last week becomes successful, talk about that as well. You may even want to arrange a call with the person behind the project, and drop a soundbite into your break.
Ask Five Questions
You can champion these projects even more with your website. Have your webmaster set up a special url dedicated to the Kickstarter projects you like (http://wkrp.com/kickstarter) and post links to the projects there so they’re easy for your listeners to find.
One of my favorite things to do is to send five questions to the project organizer and publish the answers as a Q&A. Here’s an example. This allows you to add original content around the Kickstarter project to your own website. Original content performs better in search engines, plus it will give the project organizer a reason to share your radio station’s website on social media. It also gives you a way to share the project by driving people back to your website instead of driving people directly to Kickstarter (they can still click through to Kickstarter if they want, but they may decide to stay on your website for awhile).
Find a few great local Kickstarter projects and champion them on your airwaves and on your website. It’s how you do “live and local” in the internet age.